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Geographical territories have long been the standard for sales models in the gases and welding industry. However, distributors are looking more and more at customer segmentation—where salespeople are responsible for specific customer types or product lines, rather than a geographical territory. In a competitive world driven by product knowledge, some distributors are looking at market segmentation as a way to get ahead. Distributors discuss the merits of each sales model in “Jack Of All Trades Or Master Of One,” an article appearing on Welding & Gases Today Online, the online home of the leading magazine for the gases and welding equipment industry.

Rather than asking salespeople to have encyclopedic knowledge of every product, aligning salespeople with customer segments allows them to specialize and become expert in a specific area. Says Jack Butler, president of Butler Gas Products (Pittsburgh, PA), “A typical welding supply salesperson may not be as knowledgeable in the areas of specialty gas or medical. Segmentation gives us an advantage in those areas.”

“We live in an information-based society, and today’s customers are better informed,” says Earlbeck Gases & Technologies (Baltimore, MD) President Jim Earlbeck. “We have to be better informed to keep up with the customer. Salespeople need to understand the customer’s needs.” With segmentation, salespeople get to know much more than the products—they become students of customer culture. “Calling on a steel mill is much different than calling on a hospital,” adds Earlbeck.

However, Earlbeck points out that doing away with territories also means that the potential coverage area for a salesperson is much larger. “Windshield time achieves nothing for a salesperson, other than spending corporate assets,” he says.

With the breadth of industries served by gases and welding distributors, the territory-based salesperson is at risk of becoming a jack of all trades—and a master of none. To weigh in on the debate over sales territories versus market segmentation, read “Jack Of All Trades Or Master Of One” (http://www.weldingandgasestoday.org/index.php/2011/11/ja ...) at Welding & Gases Today Online. For more information, contact Devin O’Toole, content editor at Welding & Gases Today at devin@weldingandgasestoday.org or 315-445-2347.

Founded in 1945, the Gases and Welding Distributors Association (GAWDA) is the premier source for manufacturing knowledge, education and networking. Through its member journals (http://www.weldingandgasestoday.org), e-magazines, newsletters and industry wiki (http://www.gawdawiki.org), GAWDA connects suppliers of gases and manufacturers of related equipment as well as manufacturers of welding equipment and distribution leaders, for the purpose of safely delivering optimal solutions to the users of those products. GAWDA publications are the industry’s voice for all matters related to the latest technology and the most up-to-date processes spanning welding equipment and products and services related to industrial, medical, specialty and cryogenic gases. A 501(c)3 organization, GAWDA members are located throughout North America.


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